‘Kingsman’: a Brexit explainer?

So much has been written about the rise of ‘Populism’. Many commentators have speculated on its origins while others struggled to work out what it all means and why it has come out. Examples of this populist wave include Trump, the Italian Five Star Movement and the British vote to leave the European Union.

You might not think that Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman:The Secret Service, a gratuitous adventure in violence and comedy, could shed any light on populism. But think again.

Kingsman tells the story of ‘Eggsy’, played by Taron Egerton, a working class lad recruited into an international secret service called Kingsman. Independently funded, these super sleuths represent old-fashioned values of chivalry and are the epitome of the English gentleman. Before you rush off to a safe space, women can become Kingsman too. If you haven’t seen the film and are trying to work out what his type of agent would look like, then imagine Jacob Rees-Mogg with a martini.

The villains of the piece is Valentine played brilliantly, as always, by Samuel L Jackson. Valentine is a tech billionaire worried about global warming. He was donating large sums to research to deal with the problem but frustrated by a lack of results and politicians inability to act, he hits on another plan. Valentine reasons that the things that people do are over-heating the planet. If they can’t be persuaded to change heir behaviour then the only answer is to eliminate the problem, as someone recently said on TV, literally.

Valentine’s conspiracy to wipe out billions of lives to save the planet requires the help of the rich, politicians and Royalty. Not all agree, notably a Swedish Princess who, like others who resist, is kidnapped.

Valentine claims he cherishes humanity. To save it from itself, from its overpopulated ways, it needs to be culled while saving the elites who will create a new world. Meanwhile ordinary people get on with their lives, oblivious to the fact that others are making life and death decisions about them.

The forces stopping this are the gentleman, and gentlewoman, dedicated to being on the side of the people. It is no coincidence that the film also has Royalty objecting to this Malthusian plan.

The villains here are the people who think they know best, who are self-serving and selfish while claiming to be selfless.

Kingsman is an outlandish film. It is a homage to, and resetting of, the Bond genre. But it also reflects the spirit of the age: decisions that affect how people live are made by distant elites. Inevitably people kickback. They want to control their lives and are opting for politicians who are challenging the political consensus. That might not be the best option, as many of these politicians peddle Nativist theories and will undoubtedly be as addicted to power as their predecessors. But there is another alternative: freedom.

 

 

Alex Chatham

Alex has been an occasional blogger for Liberal Vision.

We thought we knew about war

Series two of popular US TV show The 100 finished its UK run this week. The series had a dark, epic, complex plot hiding under the covers of a teen sci-fi drama. The final episode was a corker, disturbing, dramatic and thought-provoking it’s only weakness is that the prelude to season 3 did not look half as good, but season 3 can wait for later.

In our libertarian home one of us is consistently anti-war, i.e. was opposed to Syria and the action against ISIS in Iraq. The other favoured a limited intervention on behalf of the Yazidi but opposed all the other recent examples of foreign military intervention. The third likes to pull hair and sometimes to bite noses but isn’t yet able to march anywhere, let alone to war. So, between us, we’re pretty much anti-war. It seems we are typical of libertarians on that score.

What is interesting is that our reaction to the decisions made by characters in The 100 was not exactly consistent with our prior views. This is something that will need a little explaining:

In the first episode of season 1 the 100 are dropped to Earth from the orbiting Ark. They are “expendable” criminals and are being sent as an experiment. 97 years earlier the Earth was irradiated by a nuclear war, the 100 will find out if the radiation is sufficiently abated that the people of the Ark – who become known as “sky people” can survive there. A doctor on the Ark has some sort of theory that they can and the Ark is running out of oxygen, so it is time to find out.

The Earth is indeed survivable, but it is also full of savage survivors – the warlike “grounders”. It takes every sinew of moral fibre and every material resource to survive war with the grounders and so in the moment that the grounders are defeated the shadowy hazmat clad “mountain men” step in and capture 47 of the remaining criminals, just as the rest of the sky people crash to the Earth after their own conflicts come to an end. Such is the set up to season 2.

In season 2 we discover that the mountain men are bleeding the gounders for enzymes in their blood that process radiation. This is an evolved feature of the grounder population that also evolved in, or was genetically engineered into, the sky people. The mountain men have been hiding in a bunker for 97 years and have not evolved this ability. They are ruthless, literally blood thirty, and will do anything to get back to the beautiful wilderness of the ground. The mountain men discover that permanent immunity to radiation poisoning is available if they harvest every last drop of bone marrow from the 47 captives, killing all of them. Clarke is the leader who emerges to stop this.

The sky people fight hard to win the trust of the grounders and form a tense alliance. A military strategy involves sabotage infiltration information management and distraction gives them early dominance as their enemy falls under new leadership. They lay siege to the mountain bunker. A strike against the power plant renders life support largely inoperable and confines the mountain men to level 5, where there is a mess hall and a dorm. In the dorm around 40 remaining captives, and later the elite from the Ark, are confined. The scene becomes grizzly as the mountain men slaughter the sky people one by one, extracting bone marrow with a drill and expanding the force able to operate outside of level 5 and outside of the bunker. Their new president, Cage, is obsessed with the ground but is close to defeat. Consulting his father, the usurped President Dante, he suggests a deal is done with grounders to release hundreds of bloodstock grounders rom the dungeons, taking the wind out of the alliance and leaving just five individual sky people to a final desperate bid to save their people.

Grounder-trained bad-ass Octavia, and nerdy leader of the captives Jasper, find their way into level 5, seeking oxygen for mountain man turncoat Maya – Jasper’s love interest. Lead sky-person, Clarke, and her love interest Bellamy (Octavia’s brother) break into the control room in an irradiated part of the bunker. With them is electronics geek Monty, and their captive former President Dante.

The story’s ending is available on YouTube. If the above has not wetted your appetite for The 100 then these videos tell the rest of the story I want to talk about. If the show looks good to you, then go watch the whole thing instead.

And that, for today, will have to do. I hope you see what I’m talking about when I say there was a genuinely hard decision depicted here. What are you thoughts on it? My wife and I will you our thoughts shortly.

In Lambeth a play starring Tom Paine

“In Lambeth” is a play set on the eve of the Storming of the Bastille in the titular London borough. Thomas Paine flees a mob and finds himself in the garden of intellectual fellow traveller William Blake, who’s arboreally elevated full frontal nudity adds to the drama and serves to highlight the two men’s differing approaches to social change.

The Blakes

Still from promotional video

Cultured correspondent Ed Hallam saw the opening performance on Thursday and says “I imagine the libertarians would enjoy it”. Knowing Ed a little, I think his opinion is certainly worth a gamble.

This is not the first run for the play so we can look back at the previous reviews. Derek Watts of the Crawley Observer saw the 2009 production and is more skeptical than Ed. He described the play as an “interesting but ultimately somewhat directionless piece”, but also provides a romantic description of the plot, acting, and the production, including the following:

Tom Paine, pamphleteer, revolutionary, republican has stumbled into the Lambeth garden of William Blake, the visionary artist, poet and dissident. He is given a meal and a lot of booze and the two men trade images of a perfect world. For the most part they share those dreams but they differ fundamentally in how to get there. Paine is the pragmatic politician, whose starting point is what exists and stressing that revolution is achieved by mobilizing the people to overthrow the system. Blake is the romantic visionary, the idealist who believes that before you can have revolution you have to have revelation, which may or may not include the odd spot of regicide along the way.

Love and Madness carries photographs of the 2009 production and additional reviews.

Spellbound Productions’ “In Lambeth” was written by Jack Shepherd. The run continues until Saturday 2nd August at The Southwark Playhouse. The show starts 7.30pm and there is a matinee at 3pm.

After the Tuesday show there will be a discussion with the cast and creative team after the show. That sounds like an excellent opportunity for a contribution from active libertarians.

Ayn Rand’s Words Live On

Earlier this week, the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA announced that Penguin Random House will be publishing a “lost” novel that Rand wrote in 1934. The title is Ideal which shares the same title as a previously published play of hers. This novel will be released by July 2015, in a single volume with the play.

At this year’s upcoming 2014 Objectivist Summer Conference (Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, June 27-July 4), the Ayn Rand Institute will be hosting a Q&A session about the book. Ayn Rand’s intellectual heir, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, will be answering questions there concerning this “lost” novel.

wpid-ayn_rand1.jpgAround the 1950s, Ayn Rand became well-known for her two works of fiction: Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. These novels promoted and supported a new philosophy which she called, Objectivism. Objectivism includes 5 major philosophical branches: 1) metaphysics, 2) epistemology, 3) ethics, 4) esthetics, and 5) politics. These divisions make up her philosophy that essentially stresses individual rights and freedom from coercion to find happiness for oneself. It is a guide for how to live life here, on earth.

Following her fiction, she wrote non-fiction which further developed, explained, and expanded her own Objectivist philosophical theory.

Ayn Rand spent her entire life creating a world that she saw as possible for man to attain. Inspired by the works of Aristotle, she wrote about man as a hero. She glorified his accomplishments and vision throughout the ages. She believed in heroes.

Heroes are needed more than ever before in this country. We require leaders who can take responsibility for their actions, as with the Benghazi attack. We need heroes who can say that the Affordable Health Care Act does not work. We desire frontrunners that will butt heads with the NSA. We want individuals to stand up for themselves and their country at large. Men and women who will put an end to this mixed economy and allow for the free market system to thrive. People who will seek to teach others about man’s ego and his right to use “I” in a sentence – to use “I” as a basis for a rational, moral foundation.

Ayn Rand wrote and spoke about those invisible heroes, and there has been controversy over it ever since. Yet, her voice continues to grow stronger with each passing year.

Do you want to know why this “lost” novel means so much to the country right now? It is because Rand’s books are prophetic and the American people are crying out for a hero that has yet to be found. America burns for inspiration, guidance, and eloquence to combat these rough times.

We the people are desperately searching for the ideal hero who is always there in Ayn Rand’s novels.